The union of George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin may be the talk of tabloids everywhere, but last night here in New York, a new celebrity couple was quietly making their debut. This veteran party reporter had never seen Padma Lakshmi and Susan Sarandon together, but as soon as they walked into the Time 100 cocktail party, it became clear that they were a unit. Lakshmi appeared to be the dominant partner, holding Sarandon’s hand and guiding her through the crowd to the bar where Sarandon took out a compact and applied lip gloss while Lakshmi took on the task of charming any party-goers who approached. During dinner, they sat together, danced enthusiastically to a Pharrell performance, and left (together!) just before the night’s second performer, Carrie Underwood, took the stage. I approached them during their stint at the bar to find out more. “Are you going to start a rumor?” Sarandon asked. “Start a rumor!” Lakshmi commanded. Done!
Do you guys go to a lot of parties together?
Padma: We do go a lot of places together. We’re lovers. We’re secret female lovers.
Susan: I’m her daughter’s fairy godmother.
How’d you meet?
Padma: I don’t know. I picked her up at some movie premiere years ago. We’ve been on and off ever since. Yeah, she’s my daughter’s fairy godmother, too.
What are your fetishes?
Padma: Well, she’s partial to tequila. Give her a couple of shots of tequila and it’s instant. [Susan, who’s been at the bar putting on lipstick, turns around.]
We’re talking about your sexual fetishes.
Susan: Who are you, by the way?
Jada, from New York Magazine.
Susan: They’ve found us! Everyone’s found us.
I wanted to hear about your fetishes, now that I’m starting a rumor that you two are lovers.
Padma: I told you, tequila. A couple of shots of really good tequila.
Susan: I don’t understand what a fetish is. A fetish is something you do that other people don’t approve of?
Padma: It can be. It can be something taboo like that. It’s usually something that you have a proclivity to do. Like, you can’t get turned on unless I paint my toenails black or something. Or a foot fetish.
Susan: I guess I’m just a pushover.
Padma: I told you! A couple of shots of tequila and she’s mine!
Susan, you were talking to Andy Cohen about how you’d been stoned at every Hollywood awards show but the Oscars.
Padma: Well, we’re not getting an award tonight.
Susan: Did you know we’re not getting an award tonight? Because everyone’s been congratulating me and I hate to tell them that I’m not. So clearly I deserve to be, because everyone’s saying congratulations.
Padma: That’s what I think, honey!
Have you been bad influences on each other, since we’re at an influencers event?
Padma: She’s definitely been a bad influence on me.
In what ways?
Padma: I cannot say! We have to leave some things in our relationship private and out of the media’s glare.
Susan: If we could tell you, then it wouldn’t be that bad.
Have you read about George Clooney marrying a human-rights lawyer?
Padma: I hope he makes her happy, because if anyone deserves happiness it’s a human-rights lawyer. I don’t know. I don’t know these people. I wouldn’t like it if someone commented on our relationship without knowing us. [She squeezes Susan’s arm.] I wish the happy couple well. I don’t know what else to say.
Susan, what was it like shooting a pilot with your daughter, Eva?
Susan: We didn’t shoot it. She shot a different pilot. It was a very personal thing and we were very serious about how it was going to unfold, and at a certain point it wasn’t going in a direction that we wanted it to this season. So we’re holding it off. But in the meantime, she got another pilot called The Winklers, so she filmed that. It’s with Henry Winkler and it’s about his family, but it’s scripted. It’s not a reality show. It’s very funny. I saw the pilot. So I mean, if that goes, which she’ll know in a week, that’s what she’ll be doing, and having a baby. So she’ll have a very busy fall if it gets picked up.
And are you a bad influence on Padma or anybody?
Susan: God, I hope so! I hope so! I have some hair that keeps getting stuck in my gloss. [As I leave, Padma is picking hairs out of Susan’s mouth.]